My Drugstore Faves Shopping List

I am not a fan of spending money just to be spending it. I like to get value for what I spend, and if I can find something that works just as good as or better than the expensive stuff, I'm a happy camper.

Now, sometimes there is no cheaper substitute. My friends know I'm a huge fan of EsteƩ Lauder skincare, and I buy it because I have never found anything that works as well for my skin. But to support my EL habit, I need to save money elsewhere. So here are the items I always buy at the drugstore, things that for me are an excellent value and get the job done just fine:

1. L'Oreal Total Repair Extreme Reconstructing Shampoo and Conditioner. People often ask me how I get shiny, healthy-looking hair. It's because I always buy repair shampoos and conditioners, even though my hair isn't really "damaged." As I've aged my hair has gotten drier, and highlighting intensifies that effect. I've spent a lot of money at times trying salon shampoos like Kenra, Redken, Matrix Biolage, etc. and I find that the good old $5- or $6-a-bottle Loreal Repair line works just as well if not better for keeping my hair moisturized and healthy-looking.

2. Caress Body Wash. Now, I love Bath and Body Works and I love seeing it in a gift bag coming my way. But paying $10 - $12 for an 8-oz bottle of shower gel just doesn't make sense when Caress makes some intensely-fragranced, great-smelling body washes for more like $4 for a 12oz bottle. Right now I'm really into their "Passionate Spell" Passion Fruit & Fiery Orange Rose scent. And when I can find it, I adore their "Sheer Twilight" Black Orchid & Juniper Oil scent.

3. St. Ives Naturally Soothing Oatmeal & Shea Butter Body Lotion. Here in the high-altitude dessert-climate of Colorado, I have to lotion up every day to stave off itchy, dry skin. When I first moved here 13 years ago, I struggled with a severe case of eczema on my legs, back, and stomach. A dermatologist told me to use Eucerin Intensive Repair lotion "head to toe, every day." He was right; Eucerin did the trick, and I continued to use it for years. BUT, Eucerin Intensive Repair is sticky, like spreading on glue or honey. It takes a long time to absorb and is just simply a lot of work to put on. So after my eczema was fully under control, I went on a search for a suitable lotion replacement that would keep the eczema away but be a little creamier and more absorb-able, and St. Ives was the winner. Best of all, it's cheap, somewhere around $3 - $4 a 21-oz bottle with pump. (I also like their "Naturally Indulgent Coconut Milk & Orchid Extract" lotion, but right now the Oatmeal one is my favorite.)

4. Olay Regenerist Advanced Anti-Aging Detoxifying Pore Scrub Cleanser. This is my morning scrub cleanser. Not expensive (I think around $7 a bottle?) and not too abrasive. Nice clean scent. Gets the job done and lasts forever because you only need a dime-sized drop or less.

5. Revlon Brow Fantasy eyebrow pencil-and-gel-in-one. Ooh-la-la, I LOVE this stuff. I may not be a brow professional, but I find this pencil to be fast and easy to use, and it wipes off easily with a wet Q-tip if you mess up. It's a tad pricey at around $8 I think, but a pencil lasts me 3 months or so, and it's just easy and pretty on. I use the Dark Brown, but they also have a "Brunette" that's a little lighter if you're brunette.

6. L'Oreal Excellence Triple-Protection Creme haircolor. I stopped getting my color done at the salon about 3 years ago because a) it was really, really expensive, and b) the color simply did not last beyond two weeks or so. (I guess I have "resistant" grey.) For $7 - $8 a box on sale, I can color my own roots every 5 weeks, and yes, it's a lot of work, but L'Oreal's Excellence Creme line really covers grey, lasts, and is super silky, moisturizing, and wonderful. (Well, the browns are moisturizing anyway; can't speak for the blondes or reds.) People compliment my haircolor all the time, even my stylist. I mostly use the #5 Medium Brown, but last summer I mixed it with #6A Light Ash Brown to lighten it up just a tad, and everyone said I had a rich, beautiful brown. (Probably will do that again this summer before getting my highlights redone.)

So that's my drugstore shopping list. If you've tried any of these products or have other ones to recommend, I'd love to hear your opinions!